(Aap Gavaae Saevaa Karae Thaa Kichh Paaeae Maan)


The beauty of Guru ji is the knife’s edge on which we walk when we attempt to interpret gurbani.  It is all in your frame of viewing, how you see the world. This is why Professor Sahib Singh named his translation workof Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji as Darpan (Mirror).

(SGGS 474 Rag Asa Salok M:2)

ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਇ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰੇ ਤਾ ਕਿਛੁ ਪਾਏ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਲਗਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਲਗਾ ਸੋ ਪਰਵਾਨੁ ॥੧॥

Aap Gavaae Saevaa Karae Thaa Kichh Paaeae Maan ||

Naanak Jis No Lagaa This Milai Lagaa So Paravaan ||1||

But if he eliminates his self-conceit and then performs service, he shall be honored.  O Nanak, if he merges with the one with whom he is attached, his attachment becomes acceptable. ||1||


One one hand Aap Gavaae (lose yourself) and on the other hand Paaeae Maan (gain honour). Isn’t that a paradox?  How can you gain honour if you lose yourself ?


Here is the answer. The shabad above is written by Guru Angad Dev Ji,  who lost himself through service and gained the honour bestowed on him by Guru Nanak Sahib ji ; when as Bhai Lehna he was acclaimed the successor, with a new name of Guru Angad Sahib ji.


Guru Angad Sahib ji is referring to the conversation within one’s mind. Even when you are looking at something and learning from it, there is a conversation going on in your head. Your mind is absorbed in debate and contemplation.


(SGGS 62 Sri Rag M : 1)

ਅਕਥ ਕਥਾ ਵੀਚਾਰੀਐ ਜੇ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਮਾਹਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥

Akathh Kathhaa Veechaareeai Jae Sathigur Maahi Samaae ||

They contemplate the Unspoken Speech, merging in absorption in the True Guru.


To gain honour by losing yourself means losing the haumai (ego).  What is this haumai? Haumai is the ‘I’ and ‘my’ and “mine.’ This haumai is capable of regulating and steering the mind towards selfish and dishonest deeds. This ego is the main obstacle in the path to spirituality.


(SGGS 1091 Rag Maroo M: 1)

ਹਉ ਮੁਆ ਮੈ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਪਉਣੁ ਵਹੈ ਦਰੀਆਉ ॥

Ho Muaa Mai Maariaa Poun Vehai Dhareeaao ||

In egotism, he dies; possessiveness kills him, and the breath flows out like a river.


Lose and gain? Can two opposite qualities or values that oppose each other a hundred per cent coexist within the very same mind without creating dubda or duality in us?  To avoid this contradiction, the focus in our lives should always be on the Ek. If we serve the ‘Only One’ then all kind of Sewa (service) will fall in place perfectly and in unison.


(SGGS 945 Rag Ramkalee M: 1)

ਕਿਉ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਆਤਮੁ ਜਾਣੈ ਕਿਉ ਸਸਿ ਘਰਿ ਸੂਰੁ ਸਮਾਵੈ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਖੋਵੈ ਤਉ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਹਜਿ ਸਮਾਵੈ ॥੬੪॥

Kio Mool Pachhaanai Aatham Jaanai Kio Sas Ghar Soor Samaavai ||

Guramukh Houmai Vichahu Khovai Tho Naanak Sehaj Samaavai ||64||

How can the source of all be realized? How can the soul know itself? How can the sun enter into the house of the moon?

The Gurmukh eliminates egotism from within; then, O Nanak, the sun naturally enters into the home of the moon. ||64||


The secret to losing oneself begins in becoming mool (origin).  Without discovery of this mool, one wanders around like cattle let out to graze.


(SGGS 1024 Rag Maroo M:1)

ਮੂਲੁ ਨ ਬੂਝਹਿ ਸਾਚਿ ਨ ਰੀਝਹਿ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਈ ਹੇ ॥੩॥

Mool N Boojhehi Saach N Reejhehi Dhoojai Bharam Bhulaaee Hae ||3||

They do not understand their origins, they are not pleased with the Truth, and so they wander in duality and doubt. ||3||


But when the selfishness of haumai disappears, then there is no doubt, no duality and no fear any more. Only peace remains.


(SGGS 202 Rag Gauri M: 5)

ਆਪੁ ਗਇਆ ਤਾ ਆਪਹਿ ਭਏ ॥ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਨਿਧਾਨ ਕੀ ਸਰਨੀ ਪਏ ॥੩॥

Aap Gaeiaa Thaa Aapehi Bheae || Kirapaa Nidhhaan Kee Saranee Peae ||3||

When selfishness is gone, then one becomes the Lord Himself;

Seek the Sanctuary of the treasure of mercy. ||3||

Look at the personal example given by our Guru jis.  Every human – man, woman and child – values one’s name more than anything else. Name is everything as it is a reflection of the self (and false ego, too).


And what did our Guru jis do?

They dropped their individual names and assumed numbers.

A number replacing a name is one of the ways that prisons, dictators and tyrants remove an individual’s ego, self and honour.


To break the spirit, one is given a number and the name is removed just as Hitler did to the Jews in the horror camps. This is the administrative policy in all prisons and detention centres.


But our Sikh Gurus did that voluntarily! They dropped their own names of Angad, Amar Dass, Ram Dass, Arjun and Teg Bahadur and adopted the common name Nanak followed by a number. Their self merged to become simply Nanak1, Nanak 2, Nanak 3, Nanak 4, Nanak 5, Nanak 9.


(SGGS 534 Rag Dev Ghandaree M : 5)

ਮਾਨ ਮੋਹ ਮੇਰ ਤੇਰ ਬਿਬਰਜਿਤ ਏਹੁ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਖੰਡੇ ਧਾਰ ॥੩॥

Maan Moh Maer Thaer Bibarajith Eaehu Maarag Khanddae Dhhaar ||3||

To forsake pride, emotional attachment, and the sense of ‘mine and yours’, is the path of the double-edged sword. ||3||


And did they gain honour?  We all know the answer. Yes, they definitely did. We still bow to their greatness with love and humility.  And the whole spiritual world respects and honours them to this day.


(SGGS 612 Rag Sorath M : 5)

ਕਰਉ ਬੇਨਤੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਅਪੁਨੇ ਮੈ ਮੂਰਖ ਦੇਹੁ ਉਪਦੇਸੋ ਰੇ ॥੩॥

Karo Baenathee Sathigur Apunae Mai Moorakh Dhaehu Oupadhaeso Rae

I offer my prayer to my True Guru; I am so foolish – please, teach me!


The most wonderful thing about our Guru jis is that each thing they taught us, they first followed it themselves. Never a single instance of ‘do what I say, don’t do what I do.”


(SGGS 223 Rag Gauree M : 1)

ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੇ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰੁ ॥੭॥

Gur Kee Saevaa Sabadh Veechaar ||

Houmai Maarae Karanee Saar ||7||

In the Guru’s service is reflection upon the Shabad.

Subduing ego, practice pure actions. ||7||


This is the level of losing oneself and gaining honour demonstrated by the Sikh gurus.  Can there be any better example of losing oneself and gaining honour?